I’m spotting a bit of a trend. I might be way off my rocker with this, but it seems the idea of millennials not having kids is a mark of shame somehow to this generation.
Sure, get your financial act together first, before adding the burden of childcare and limiting your ability to travel, eliminating debt seems like the right thing to do.
Is the lure of early retirement compelling millennial couples to not have kids? If you believe the nonsense published in sensationalist rags, you might be convinced to leave child-raising to your debt-loving friends and neighbors.
$500 grand is a LOT of coin (supposedly) necessary to raise two kids. And your ability to loiter on some beach in Bali would be put on at least an 18-year hiatus.
And then… KIDS! A little splash of reality after all that waterfall nonsense. Still smiles!
Millennials Are Causing a Baby Bust
Mr. Money Mustache is the ivory tower of early retirement. A rock star in flannel with a love of bicycles I can relate to. But if there’s ever been a post of his that raised the ire among the FIRE, it was his post about being allowed to have just one kid.
For those of us with multiples, it was extremely difficult to decide which kid to drop off at the orphanage. We ended up keeping them both, for the record.
Seriously though, I get it. The world is experiencing unsustainable population growth in many regions. Our consumerism is compounding the harm to our environment. That floating chunk of plastic garbage in the Pacific is now twice the size of Texas. (Don’t mess with Plastic Texas?)
So I get it. There’s more to the lecture than simply saving money and reducing sleepless nights. If we all applied China’s notorious one-child policy across the globe, we could have a fighting chance to preserve our resources and perhaps even mitigate flash-points of political and religious conflict. One can dream.
And I also get how having kids can put a strain on the marriage. As hard as Mrs. Cubert and I tried to convince ourselves to stay focused on our relationship right before the twins were born, the last five years have been 90% energy to kids, and 10% to us.
Date nights help, but you need to stay committed to each other through thick and thin. Because there’s a lot of “thick” when you’re raising two little ones at the same time. (Cue the violins, please…)
Ultimately, our mustachioed expert from Longmont is careful, despite his post’s title, not to push his newfound epiphany. I’m glad he shared this thought, smack in the middle of the controversial post:
Having (or not having) kids is a personal decision, and it’s not something that I (or your friends, parents, in-laws, church, government, religion, or society) should have much say in. It’s between you and your partner, and even then it is a questionable practice to try to force a partner into having more of them than he or she wants.
Not All Millennials Are Opting Out of Parenthood
Far from it. Nothing is easy, don’t get me wrong. Simple acts like entering the house are a chore at ages 0-6.
E.g., How do you open the screen door while holding a baby carrier? The stoop is too small for twins. Who designed this house?!?
And when they’re a little older (toddler+), they start whining about not being able to press the thumb button themselves on the screen door latch. So you let them in, when you finally get a hand free (after they finally give up on the thumb button, and press random keys on the keypad lock…)
And wouldn’t you know it? Once they enter the house, sand, mud, water, and something slimy from God-knows-where gets streaked across the kitchen, dining room, and living room, faster than you can catch them with keys, purse, coats, groceries, and the giant watermelon in your arms.
Let’s catch our breath for a minute. That kind of sh*t happens EVERY DAY.
But wait. Didn’t I start this paragraph with the notion of having kids not being all that bad? It’s true. Really.
Once you get past the terrifying parts, especially for the expecting mother, who’s going through some major stuff, emotionally and physically, there’s real JOY. Raising and supporting kids is a great way to acquire some instant struggle and purpose.
You might be exhausted and sometimes stretched to your wits-end, but at every corner, there’s something new and unexpected. Our kids make us laugh and they make us proud.
The artwork gets better all the time. Instead of a violent scribble of crayons filling the page, we now have stick figures with discernible eyes, nose, mouth… and even a schlong, when my son is being mischievous.
For me, the unexpected part was getting to be a kid again. I’m man enough to admit how fun it was to unload my childhood box of LEGO last year to the screaming delight of the twins. And thanks to the Internet, I was able to retrieve the missing instructions for those ancient space sets. Now to retrieve all those missing/broken pieces…
We now have a weekly (or biweekly) at-home movie night, complete with popcorn and smoothies! I’m enjoying some classic Pixar movies all over again. If you don’t know me by now, I’m counting the days until the kiddos turn six, when I’ll screen Star Wars for them. They better love it. Or else… (Insert ominous respirator sound effect here…)
How to Afford Having Kids
Now for the tricky part. Despite my best efforts to convince myself that raising kids isn’t THAT expensive, it turns out, it does put a dent in your ledger. That particular post neatly whittles away the sensationalist $233K per kid myth. The problem is that whatever amount we agree is needed per kid, most of it is front-loaded.
Childcare costs are crazy for two working parents. We didn’t embark on real estate investing just to roll around in dollar bills. Nope. That money went straight to the nanny, for a solid four and a half years.
In fairness, very few are fortunate enough to have options like me and Mrs. Cubert do. Acknowledging that should have been the first disclaimer in just about all of my preachy, condescending, and smug-as-all-get-out posts.
Making six figures and choosing a minimalist lifestyle is a wonderful privilege. We’ve chosen to make the trade-off of less stuff now, for a more comfortable and freedom-laced future, later on in our lives. Simple.
And if you want to retire early with kids, that’s truly the only way you can make a go of it. (Unless you’re a highly-paid physician, in which case you can suffer fewer trade-offs while enjoying the FatFIRE lifestyle.)
Millennials as Parents: It’s a Choice
Truth: The millennial generation is LOADED with quality people who’d make amazing parents. This generation has been through some scary stuff during their formative years. It makes sense to put off having kids, especially if you grew up in a house that suddenly foreclosed, or stayed “underwater” for several years after 2008.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. The Great Depression of the 1930s can be blamed for a litany of “Back in my day…” quotes from Great Grandma and Great Grandpa. Don’t be surprised if millennials in 2060 are caught on tape muttering, “Back in my day, we lived in underwater houses.
That’s right. We had to strap on fins and goggles to swim to school. And we had to swim fast to avoid the loan sharks.”
Susan Newman, Ph.D., writes about the “kidless millennial” phenomenon: You come away with a clearer picture, but the title’s question is left for time and statistics to answer, years from now. In short, millennials are simply waiting to marry and have kids.
I’m a Gen X’er and I remember all the buzz about our generation waiting until its late 20s to settle down and raise a family. Millennials are merely holding off a little longer than us, waiting to start a family until their early to mid-30s. It seems fair to me.
Another article from earlier this year paints a dire picture (at least, the clickbait title does). Joseph Coughlin’s Forbes article, Millennials Aren’t Having Kids. Here’s Why That’s A Problem For Baby Boomer Real Estate & Retirement goes for the jugular.
All it takes is a few paragraphs to draw the same conclusion as Newman’s piece: Again, millennials are simply taking their sweet time to have kids.
Funny read though, making us worry about whether ma and pa can sell their big house in the burbs when they opt to downsize, but wait, Sally and Johnny would rather live in an Airstream or Tiny House. Whaaaa???
My impression? The crop of millennials out there seeking early retirement and financial independence is no less inclined than their non-FIRE peers to have kids. They’ll fall right in line with the overall cohort trend of having kids later on. Smart.
And it’s smart because that’s what we did. Ha!
Mrs. Cubert and I are millennial wannabes. We waited until age 31 / 40 to start raising our own family. You’d call us out as impostors for not showing up at brunch to indulge in avocado toast and mimosas.
Will You Regret Not Having Kids?
The obvious advice from someone raising two kids of his own is not to let early retirement and financial independence come between you and having kids. If you are fortunate enough to have the option of bringing life into the world, you will find it a struggle and a source of joy at the same time.
Just recognize that the mix of struggle and joy gets a bit uneven after two kids, depending on the situation…
Take it from Darrow Kirkpatrick of Can I Retire Yet?
“I did retire early, and I have a great life now. But, even with all the freedom of financial independence, here’s the truth: The days of working a regular job and raising my son were among the happiest of my life. There was (a) purpose, adventure, and joy in those family years that are harder to find at later stages in life.
So, in the end, I have absolutely no regrets about raising a child, even though it might have meant working longer. When I look back now, I know those were great times.”
As for us, we didn’t even know early retirement existed when our twins entered the world, back in 2013. And even if we wound up stuck in our cubicles until 65, I figure a life led raising kids can yield the right mix of purpose, struggle, and joy to make it a life well-led.
And if you decide not to have kids? That’s a perfectly admirable choice to make. Having kids is a personal decision that no one should feel guilted into (or out of). The requirement to bring grandkids into the world is an old-fashioned notion.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to sometimes longing for the days when Mrs. Cubert and I could travel or simply relax, sans kids. It’s a lot of work and the stress is real.
There’s some science to back up the notion that whether you have kids or not. The punchline? Kids or no kids, it makes no difference in life satisfaction. It’s ultimately a matter of personal choice and priorities.
Still, I hope the many bright-eyed and bright-minded millennial early retirees-in-the-making out there consider offspring. We could use a few more good eggs!
Join the Legion of Cubicle Doom!
Sign up to have new posts and special updates sent directly to your inbox.
My wife and I have two kids, ages 5 (almost 6) and 3. I’ve had early retirement as a goal since I first graduated college in 2002, but my interest has increased in the past few years. Actually, I think part of my increased interest in financial freedom is because of having kids. When we didn’t have kids I didn’t worry about money that often. I knew we made plenty of money to take care of ourselves, and I was confident that would continue. But adding the responsibility of 2 young kids and knowing that I’m going to have to provide for them for a long time can be intimidating. It’s made me more focused on reaching my goals, even though it’s actually slowed down my progress of getting there.
Having kids certainly got me more focused on financial freedom as well. It wasn’t until we learned we would be expecting parents that we started on the real estate side gig. To the point you make – your focus becomes the kids and the “here and now” once they arrive on the scene from Mr. Stork.
The trade off of having kids and prolonging careers is worth making, from my perspective. And the key point of my post is that it’s simply and solely -my- perspective.
Thanks for sharing!
I’m in the same boat Marc. Having my first kid is what focused me on financial freedom. I had recareered into teaching when I realized my lifestyle cost less than a teaching salary. However, when my wife was pregnant I thought of all the additional expenses I was going to incur to be the father I thought I wanted to be. It launched me into a frantic search for personal development and income generating activities which led me to the FIRE movement. 3 years in, I’ve increased my income and decreased my already small spending since having a child.
Cubert, I enjoyed reading this post. Just so you know, even young kids don’t have to be expensive if you are creative. I teach at a low income school where people definitely can’t afford nannies or even daycare but they are still pumping out children. You can rely on family and friends for help, live in nanny, alternating shifts at work between the parents (one works normal hours one works a night shift), or find work you can do from home.
Thanks, Zack – I’m glad you enjoyed this read! And I certainly appreciate your challenge that kids do NOT have to be expensive. I totally agree. Since this post was published earlier in the week, I’m feeling personally a bit better that FIRE isn’t in and of itself, preventing folks from pumpin’ em out! 😉
Susan B says
Having kids is my greatest accomplishment! I wouldn’t trade either one of them even if I had to work until I was placed in “The Home”! I am a retired mom who would give anything to go back to the years when my kids were in school, stress and all! I couldn’t be more grateful and proud of the wonderful people my kids became!
Awesome words, Susan B.! It’s truly a grind at times, but so is building as house. You enjoy the process: the progress, the exhaustion, the feeling that you’re developing something special. The “struggle” is the secret sauce of life. Raising kids is like building a house, or a skyscraper with no limits.
Ben Zabulis says
To be honest I decided against having kids long before deciding to retire early. This was partly due to my keenness to travel and work abroad, I reckoned it just wouldn’t be fair to either leave them at home or drag them around the world with me – so my wanderlust was much greater than any paternal instinct. Ironically it was because I worked overseas a while that I was able to accumulate the wherewithal to fund that early retirement. It’s a good observation that you made however, incidentally when considering all my friends who have had children, none off those children (now in the 20-35 age group have yet to reproduce – so you may well be on to something !
That is totally fair, Ben! Not that you need my or anyone else’s blessing on your decision. In fact, many of us ‘rents love to live vicariously through adventurous lives like yours. Travel is a wonderful thing and I miss the opportunities to get more stamps in the ol’ (about to expire) passport…
Bernz JP says
Great post here Cube. I agree with you, well from my own experience that raising kids is expensive and most likely that’s only one of the reasons why millennials are delaying, not just kids but marriage and even buying a house as well. They are making the most out of their lives while they’re younger. Other’s want to have a more establish careers before even considering marriage.
Right on. No reason to push ahead if you feel you’re not ready. Not that any parent could ever claim to be fully prepared for raising kids. But if you can get a handle on things within your grasp, it frees up all that mental energy for the chaos to follow…
Uncle Daryl says
Married at 22, our plan was to enjoy our independence and delay starting a family for at least five years. But nature intervened, and we had our first child at 24, and a second at 27.
Any regrets? None whatsoever. While we had little money, we had lots of energy — much provided by two boys. We lived the Money Money Mustache life — remodeled old houses, drove older cars, gardened, watched our pennies, but had lots of fun too. Camping trips in a used tent camper, and even small sailboat for MN summers.
As a result, by age 41, the two sons were pretty much grown. So I started “Phase 1” of retirement by bailing from the corporate rat race and starting an engineering consulting firm. FI came but a few years later. But it was awfully quiet without kids running around – until the grandkids came.
Now 31 years later, we have been blessed with six grandchildren. I keep reminding my sons that these are the “good old days” they will soon look back on. So if you are raising kids, enjoy and savor every moment.
Finally, as a grandpa, I can identify with the saying, “If I had known grandkids were so much fun, I would had them first.” But I would not have wanted to miss the journey with my own kids. And if you decide to not have children, that is OK too. It is a very personal decision. Peace.
Daryl! You sure did it right. It was probably a blur at times, but you made the best of what you thought might be a less-than-ideal situation. And look how ideal it became!
Thanks for the great advice. I will often pause while playing with our two kids to “soak it all in”. They really do grow up right before your eyes.
Best to you sir! I’ve got to believe you’re getting ready to migrate back to AZ for the winter? This weather we’re having in MN would get me packing…
freddy smidlap says
our house is kid free by choice. i had 2 friends who had theirs in their early-ish 20’s. they came from out of town to meet up with other old friends and one of the local ones asked how old the kids were now? my response, the youngest is 23 and he’s at the end of the table having a beer. time flies i guess and we weren’t even 50. it’s just another way to skin a cat.
See, Freddy? I bet that 23 year old didn’t even have to pay for his (or her?) beer. 😉
Thanks for the thoughts on this. Here’s to kids picking up the tab. Cheers!!
We had our son when I was 37. That’s a little later than usual but it was perfect for us.
I think you really need to answer the kid question first before dealing with early retirement. Then just accommodate kid or no kid accordingly. Putting early retirement first will make it tough when a kid shows up unexpectedly.
I think delay having a kid is a good idea. Kids are much less stressful when you’re doing well financially.
You still beat me by three years, my friend (40). Gladly, we ended up with twins, which meant we were done, and I wouldn’t be chasing a toddler into my late 40s. Ack!!
I like your mindset. Early retirement and FI are wonderful, but the “kids / no kids” part of the equation should be mutually exclusive to FIRE.
Are you at 30 pull ups yet?? 😉
Mr. r2e says
Married at 24/25 and had son #1 at 30/31 and son #2 at 33/34. We were able to save/invest without sacrificing anything. We were in a position where my career and pay allowed Mrs. r2e to stay home with the boys. (note – she had the much harder job of Chief Education Officer).
As it relates to Millennials – there are plenty of this generation that will kick my butt when it comes to finances, raising kids, future in general. To often they are put down as a whiney generation overall when the sensational headlines are really about a few.
As it relates to my mother’s generation – my mother’s family line is “I am the way I am because I am a child of the depression.” People are shaped by their experiences, especially so when they are young and live through them.
So Millennials – do what works for you and don’t worry about those who came before you and those will come after you. Live in the present!
Excellent comment, Mr. R2E! It’s true that this generation gets painted with a broad-brush. I’m probably not helping the situation with my piece here, but admittedly, Millennials are as diverse and unique individually as any other generation. They don’t all have college degrees by a long shot, and they’re not all to be found at brunch on the weekends.
That many may opt to hold off on huge, debt-inducing decisions because of the financial crash of 2008 (a crash caused by the idiotic baby-boom generation)? That’s just plain smart.
Done by Forty says
I am beginning to appreciate the fact that the cost of kids is frontloaded, as you noted. The sprint to FIRE has slowed to a crawl, and the little guy isn’t even mobile yet.
Now that we’re talking about a second, all bets are off when it comes to our FIRE date. Donebysixty.com seems to still be available…
It’s utter madness, my friend. The cost of childcare is staggering. Now that ours are finally in all-day K, we’re beginning to see more cash go towards the mortgage pay down again.
Just remember to hang onto every scrap of baby accoutrement when number 2 comes along. And space them out such that child A is old enough to sit for child B around age 10 or so. Nothing wrong with Donebysixty, DBF – worse case we’ll start up a taco stand together and have a blast.
I’m a millennial (though about as old as one can be and still be called a millennial) with three kids. Married at 25, first kid at 27. I guess I understand the whole waiting to get married and have kids thing to some extent. What I thought was great about being married relatively young by today’s standards is that we were a team through a lot of those early career years, so we could afford to take some risks. We grew together during those formative times and meshed even better as a team.
Kids are expensive, but I think it’s pretty manageable. Certainly my FIRE date is a good 10 years later than it would be if I didn’t have kids. Though I’m doubtful I never would have gone down the FIRE path if I hadn’t had kids. It was having my first son that made me realize that I wanted the freedom to spend more time with him that made me start exploring financial independence. Though it took me another 7 years to get serious about it unfortunately. I won’t reach FI until my youngest is out of the house, so it’s no longer about spending more time with my kids, but will be about my wife and I being able to rediscover life with just the two of us in whatever way we want without the burden of having to work (though we probably still will to some extent).
Thanks for sharing. Kids sure are expensive, but in many facets, only as expensive as you allow it to be. I’m like you in that without kids, there’s less pull to FIRE. Sure, cubicle life can be tough, but without kids, it’s a lot easier to juggle.
Keep us posted how your journey progresses. I don’t think we’re too far apart!
I can’t argue with a lot of the math to back up the “delay kids” mindset, but I think there are a lot of things that aren’t considered in the numbers. For example, grandparents are older and often less able to help. Parents may have less energy to work, chase kids, and hustle on the side. I think for a lot of people outside the FIRE community, having kids is what helps them realize directing dollars from happy hours/nice cars to savings/assets is a good idea. So when that mindset shift happens in your 20s instead of 30s, you’ve got a lot of time on your side to beef up investments and rely on compound interest. Plus, if a parent stays home with them, that parent could be back in the workforce in their late 30s/early 40s once the kids hit school age. This really maximizes big earning years. And of course, there’s knowing that we’ll be empty nesters by 50 and can downsize the house, have location flexibility, etc.
I echo everything said about kids being a personal choice, and of course none of it is actually in our control as much as we think (like you said…twins!). But I just wanted to speak up from the “I’m a millennial who had kids in my late 20s and we’ll still be FIRE by mid 40s” side of the house 🙂
I think Root of Good and Ms Montana are awesome examples of having young families and achieving FIRE!
Boy, I can relate to your second point about chasing kids while lacking energy! Despite my so-so efforts to stay in shape, our five year olds are running us ragged! 🙂
You and Nate hit on a good point: The quest for FIRE often stems from having kids and all the sudden feeling a loss of control. FIRE gives us some sense of hope for regaining control of the money and lifestyle side of things. That’s been huge for us.
I’m grateful for your thoughtful comment. Goes to show – you can more or less “have it all!” 🙂
Thanks for always participating in the comments!
You seem to be keeping up just fine 🙂 In fact, I used referenced you and your wife to my husband just the other day. We’re on the hunt for our first rental property and we were talking about pushing it out a couple years to get out of the toddler/baby craziness first. I told my husband that you and your wife did it, with twin infants, a business, and you were ten years older 🙂
He likes to joke that 50% of my sentences start with “There’s this blog I read…”
LOL! Careful now, Britt. I get to hide behind the impervious persona of “Cubert”!!
I would never discourage anyone from getting into rental real estate, assuming they have the rest of their lives in order – and have done their homework. I’m reading Coach Chad Carson’s book, “Retire Early With Real Estate”, for an eventual review here. So far so good, though his experience is a little different, as a single guy with no kids when he ventured into this space. You may want to pick this one up – he covers the essentials in an easy to follow style.
If you press forward and get your husband on-board, I’d suggest sticking with one new rental per year, or every other year. And if you find it a royal pain to manage, you could consider a property management company. I know a decent one that charges 8% of the rent (he’s also my rental property real estate agent!)
I’ve already read it – and to hold ourselves accountable to actually taking action, we’re doing his Real Estate Start School! I’ll definitely circle back once we’re at the management company stage. Thanks!
Tread Lightly, Retire Early says
I’ve actually gone back and read MMM’s one kid article more times than I can count. As someone who has struggled to come to the one and done decision, that post has seriously helped. But ultimately it wasn’t a financial decision for us.
Hey there, Angela. Something about his blog makes it worth multiple reads. I peg it to the extraordinary confidence and optimism sprinkled with a dash of “If I can do it, you can too!” I wonder myself if that post would’ve influenced our decision, were it not for having twins. As it is, we’re certainly done now with two in the mix… Science! 🙂
Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE says
My husband and I met in HS, married the year after college grad, and had our first a year after that (our second and last kid by age 30). We were very young to be married with kids, especially in NYC, and it was really hard, even lonely at first. But now that we’re set to be empty-nesters by age 48 we’re glad we had kids early. We also had so much more energy to hold down busy careers and growing families in our 20’s and 30’s. Finally, we were able to raise our kids in NYC (where we both grew up) and still get to FIRE by mid/ late 40’s. There’s never a perfect time to have kids, and maybe we could have hit FIRE faster without them, but we wanted kids so who cares? It all works out — kids or no kids, kids early or late — as long as you stay true to yourself.
Empty-nest by 48! I can only imagine!! The extra energy would sure be welcomed in our situation. We joke that the trade off is all the wisdom we’ve acquired as older parents, while the kids wear us to a pulp. 🙂
I like your perspective, Caroline. Kids and FIRE should be mutually exclusive. Don’t let FIRE preclude you from having kids. Some things are worth the wait and extra toil in cubicle land. It’s really a first-world dilemma.
Captain DIY says
I came into this article with the idea that I was going to make smug proclamations of how less people having kids would save the world’s ever-worsening overpopulation problem. But darn it, you did that for me!
Having two kids myself, I am in admiration for those grown adults who decide not to have children, and I shake my head in sorrow and perseveration for those who decide to wait until 45 to have kids. I’m 36 now, and I can only wish people my age having babies good luck as they face the inevitable avalanche of diapers, objects shoved in noses, hand prints on the ceiling (seriously, how?!) and the constant exasperated “why can’t we just have one goddam nice thing in this house without it being destroyed” exclamations.
I love my kids, and I love the fact that they are becoming slightly more independent. Despite their best efforts, we will reach FI someday, and I’m gonna implant decent money habits into their little heads if it’s the last thing I do!
Ahoy, Cap’n! You should comment on my post about not needing to own a boat. It’d add some much needed gravitas! 😉
Seriously, thanks for offering up your thoughts here. Any sympathy for this author, who brought twins into the world at 40?? My knees can’t take it! LOL. As for keeping nice things in the house, that’s when being cheap comes in handy. “Sure, Junior, soil yourself on that antique mis-matched chair from 1942. Give us a good reason to logon to Wayfair.com, c’mon kid!!!”
We’re on the same journey, Cap’n – let’s trade notes as we go. See if any our wisdom makes a dent in those impressionable minds…
Shawn @ ThesmartFi says
What a great post. I think you get to the heart of the matter by saying, having children is a personal choice. Cliche but true, the saying “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” comes to mind when thinking about children. The haves and have not’s, often wish to trade places. There are days when I wish I could drop my children off at the orphanage.
This quote below makes me think someday I will miss my crazy child-filled life.
I did retire early, and I have a great life now. But, even with all the freedom of financial independence, here’s the honest truth: The days of working a regular job and raising my son were among the happiest of my life. There was purpose, adventure, and joy in those family years that are harder to find at later stages in life.
Thanks, Shawn! As much as I love our little ones and wouldn’t trade em ever, I also daydream about tropical beaches with zero kids and all day drink service. Ahhh…. Pick em up at the orphanage on the way back into town, that kind of thing…
I really dug Darrow’s quote too. One to hang my hat on, when the going gets rough!
There is one important fact you have missing in this conversation. After the age of 27 a woman’s fertility level starts falling. If a couple is waiting to have babies in their mid thirties they may end up spending a lot of their savings on fertility treatments.
That is an excellent point, Stellamarina! And often times those treatments aren’t successful. Of course, adoption is a wonderful thing too, but also quite expensive, which disqualifies a huge percentage of US couples.
As a fellow GenX 40 something, I think It’s probably true that millennials aren’t having kids as soon as previous generations. A combination of wanting to live and experience life more before settling down with kids, fear about an unknown future with so much conflict and uncertainty in the world.
My wife and i waited to have kids until we had been married for almost a decade. I was 34, she was 29. We then proceeded to have 2 kids, a boy and a girl, almost 8 years apart. Since we waited so long to have kids we were able to do quite a bit of traveling, go through multiple homes and experience a lot of life before we settled down completely.
I have to say when it comes to kids I sometimes wish we had them earlier than we did. While having kids is a lot of work, I think at times people overestimate just how much pain and suffering are brought into their lives because of all the hassle kids can be, and they underestimate just how much joy, love and growth come from having kids.
Yes, kids are messy, they’ll throw up on you, they can misbehave, and they cost a ton of money, but they will also love you no matter what, be excited to see you when you come home, and fall asleep contentedly in your arms. No amount of money can make up for that in my opinion. For me, my children make my life richer – and much more blessed just for having them in my life, both in struggle and when things are good.
In reading a lot of these posts it feels like for a lot of folks children are felt to be more of a burden than a blessing – and I can understand how people would think that because they do restrict a lot of your freedom to a degree. I think what is misunderstood so often is that in the struggle so much of our growth comes, and while financial independence is an admirable goal to work towards, it isn’t and shouldn’t be an end goal – there has to be more of a reason and a why behind it. To me having kids helps to give me a reason.
I do think that having kids has been a huge blessing for us, but at the same time would never assume it’s what everyone would want. Thankfully we live in country where we can choose to have no kids, or 10 kids if we want, and I can see the positives of both.The key is to go in with eyes wide open, see the upsides and downsides of both paths with clear eyes, know yourself, and go from there!
Awesome commentary, Peter! I appreciate the thoughtful words.
I’ll sometimes catch myself asking “What if we’d had our kids earlier??” But I’m glad we chose to wait, if for no other reason than to give us a chance to mature as parents and be in a better place financially to provide.
Great post cube!!! I’ll say that for us we are not having kids not because of early retirement but because of student loans. Also something to touch on when it comes to millennials. I wrote a similar post with regards to money in general impacting millennial child birth !
Thanks, Josh! Boy – Student Loans are such a drag. You guys are hopefully closing in on being done with those loans? I look forward to an announcement on kid wax #1 soon! 🙂
As one of those millennials holding off on having kids, I thought you outlined all my internal dialogue and discussions with my husband perfectly ??
I’d say my peers and I are being intentional about the experiences we want in our 20s, how we’re setting ourselves up financially for the future and being sure we’re emotionally and mentally ready to take on parenthood. I think those are all good things.
I’m glad this resonated with you, M! We were once in your shoes, even if we can’t technically be labeled as “millennials”.
Though I was far from intentional with my 20s. Just sort of swam along in the stream until some clarity snuck in, in my 30s.
Get Rich Brothers says
I read this with a curiosity as I wonder how much my interest in personal finance and FIRE generally has influenced me to not want children (I’m a millennial-31-and don’t see myself having children). The decision to forego children was never made on the basis of finances, but I have spent a good part of the last decade focusing on saving money to invest.
When I think about it, I really see it more as a lifestyle choice; I enjoy working on projects and doing things that don’t require me to be home. My brother has two children and I do enjoy spending time with them as an uncle without being the parent.
No clear cut answer, but posts like this make it possible to work through what makes us tick.
Hi Ryan! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad that for you it really is a lifestyle choice. We shouldn’t let the money dictate our desire to have offspring.
I read your article with enjoyment. It was a good read. Not so fascinated with all the comments concerning early retirement though.
Why so much emphasis? I’m in the ‘what will be, will be’ camp. Luck and chance has played a big part in my world.
still? I take away “… the best years of my life was raising my children”. I agree. ?
Re early retirement: You and my both these days, Alex!
Thanks for your comment. Raising kids is a wonderful thing – but it sure has its moments!!
Kids are cool! But this can only be understood after you have them) and probably even more than one.
And the question of how children somehow influence your financial state as a whole seems to me not true, and there is a feeling that people who think so are just lazy or want to cheat and cannot admit to themselves that they are not ready, they do not want children at all.
Children are a lot of responsibility, they mean that it is time for you to grow up), but it’s worth it)
p.s. I have 2 boys.
Agree! They are cool indeed. But I don’t begrudge those who don’t have kids. To each their own, and happiness isn’t based on whether or not you have kids. It’s totally a personal choice but one I wanted to probe with this write up.
Papa Foxtrot says
I see two problems with the concept of having children. First, people feel like you must have them early or not at all. You can have children in your 40s with little if any problems the biological clock exists, but is not strict. Second, everyone assumes children must be very expensive. They will cost money, but they will not add strain to solid finances. I will make a post of how to avoid these high costs.
Hi Papa Foxtrot! I couldn’t agree more. I was 40 when our twins came into the world. I feel better prepared to raise them, even if the trade off is a sore back and knees! 🙂